Winter bookings up from 2005-06
For the past three months, Parkites have been relaxing through the slow-season. Now there’s snow on the ground, resorts are open and lodging reservations are pouring in.
According to Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, lodging numbers for the 2005-06 winter season rose 5 percent from the year before. From November 2005 to March 2006 Park City had 1779 visitor nights, compared to 1697 for the same time period of the 2004-05 season.
The Chamber/Bureau does not keep official records of current bookings, nor do they try to predict the future, Malone said. But things are looking positive.
"Anecdotally, we’re hearing good things," Malone said. "It gets harder and harder each year to project growth, but, if you look at the numbers, we’ve had significant growth over the past few years. Last year we had some weeks at 85 percent occupancy, which is great. You just don’t know if you’re going to be successful on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to make those numbers go up, but all signs point to us having another great year."
Weekdays, which are typically spent at lower occupancy than weekends, are a big reason why Patty Smith, assistant manager of reservations at Deer Valley Lodging, is excited about current trends. Smith said they are booked for several calendar weeks already.
"All in all we’re looking at about a 20 percent increase in overall bookings over this time last year," she said. "Our popularity, starting with the Olympics and the great snow we’ve had in the last few years, has increased the amount of repeat guests. It’s just so easy to get here."
Smith said the traditional weeks are busy, but that there are also some surprises.
"Right now Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 is totally booked up," she said. "But, surprisingly, so is the week of Jan. 2-7 because of the extended Christmas break some kids are getting. Historically that hasn’t happened before so we’re very busy."
January, which is traditionally Park City’s busiest month, is already showing signs of record-breaking numbers.
The start-of-the-year madness begins at New Year’s, but swells in the middle of the month around the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend from Jan. 11 to the 15. After the holiday, the city continues to fill for the rest of the month because of the annual Sundance Film Festival..
"The whole film festival is sold out from Jan. 18-28, with the ‘A’ package from Jan. 18-23 completely sold out, and only limited availability from the 23-28 for the ‘B’ package," Smith added.
Smith said the numbers tail off toward the beginning of February, but pick back up with Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend before settling back down until spring break.
"The last part of March, the 24-31, is almost sold out because of spring break, all the way through April 8 because of the early date of Easter," she said.
Smith said that on any given weekend, especially the traditionally busy ones, Deer Valley Lodging runs at about 90 percent occupancy of its 700 condos in the Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort areas.
"We do cater to the higher end clientele and we’ve been doing it forever," she said. "But all of the reservations will, of course, all depend on Mother Nature and how things go."
Krista Parry, spokesman for PCMR, said that although they do not own properties, they go through local property management companies to keep rooms full.
"We don’t own any properties, however, our PCMR reservations department has connections with 90 percent of the lodging properties in and around Park City so we book everywhere."
She said that through those companies PCMR locations have enjoyed an increase in bookings over the same time last year.
"Currently we are seeing about a 13 percent jump from where we were last year in reservations at this time," Parry said. "We are seeing big jumps in January and in March. We were up last year from the previous year, so for us to be ahead again is pretty phenomenal, especially since we haven’t had any big weather dumps, and snow is what usually makes the phones ring."
Much like it has been in the past, Parry said they have not seen any significant trends in where people are visiting from. Guests come from everywhere from Utah to Australia to visit Park City’s majestic mountains and world-famous snow.
"People come from all over," she said. "We get guests booking from all across the nation, from all across the world. And the fact that we’re still seeing increases in our reservations says people aren’t too worried about the increases in transportation costs."
Despite airline travel prices pushing higher than in recent years, Parry said the desire to get away and get rejuvenated, lifts people into the sky and onto vacation. She said she doesn’t foresee transportation costs becoming an issue.
Libby Dowd of The Canyons agrees.
"Of our over 600 units that we’re in charge of, I think we’re up 11 percent from last year," she said. "I don’t see that stopping as long as the snow keeps falling."
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Park City has launched a survey designed to learn about travel habits during a winter that was unlike any other in the skiing era of the community.